Drs. P.T. and Julia Teska

Nominated by Fr. Paul Zahler, O.S.B., Ph.D. 

Dr. P.T. Teska was recruited in the early 1950’s to begin the Special Education program at the University of Oklahoma. This was prior to Public Law 94-147, so public school classes for children with special needs were not required. In conjunction with his work at the University, he spoke to many organizations around the state to promote the beginning of such classes in public schools.

Psychology: A Biosocial Study
of Behaviour by Edwin Terry
Prothro and P.T. Teska (Jan 1973)

A model class was operated at the University School, a laboratory school operated by the College of Education. Numerous graduate students received both Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Special Education with Dr. Teska as their major professor.

His model is now perpetuated locally, statewide, nationally, and worldwide through the National Institute on Developmental Delays on the campus of St. Gregory’s University, founded and directed by Fr. Paul Zahler, O.S.B., Ph.D.

Dr. Teska was not a proponent of institutionalization and worked to help parents advocate for a more normal environment for their children.

Dr. Julia Teska in 1985.

Dr. Teska’s widow, Julia Teska, has continued in the field and currently serves on the board of directors for a community facility for adults with developmental disabilities and also serves on the board of the “Bridges out of Poverty” organization in Delaware County. She has been on these boards for nearly 20 years.

In her job at a community action agency, she assists felons in locating and maintaining employment, provides financial literacy training for low-income families and individuals, and assists those applying for disability income. She also trains new Child Welfare supervisors who are working in the resolution of a federal lawsuit to provide safe and secure home placements for children referred to OKDHS.

On December 10th, the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance will honor human rights heroes from around our great state. A recognition program will take place at the State Capitol. Dr. Julia Teska will be honored along with her late husband. More information about the program can be found here: “Celebrate Human Rights.”

“Discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.”
— From the Preamble of the 
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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